The pain continues

The pain doesn’t seem to be stopping. And the worst part is, it’s inconsistent regarding what actually makes me feel better. Lying all the way down feels terrible regardless of what position it is. Sitting for too long is uncomfortable. Walking, surprisingly enough, is actually comfortable despite the pain I feel when the weight is on the right side. But then when I did some new stretches this afternoon that were supposed to help, I felt even worse. I laid on the bed for a good half hour, constantly switching positions and having no clue how to alleviate the pain.

Chris suggested I walk in the pool, as the water could help. So I walked up and down the lines for a while and finished with a few swims on my back because I can’t be bothered sticking my face in the water. That felt pretty good. Then, I carefully went into the jacuzzi, trying to ensure the belly wasn’t submerged in the water, just to get the jets pushing water out against my thighs right along my IT band where the pain seems to be. While all of that felt good, as soon as I got out of the water, I didn’t feel good again. What is going to help…. someone please help meeeee.

I contacted my doula, who suggested prenatal massage and/or a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy. I emailed my OB for help. I even texted the trainer at the gym for some stretching advice. Why do I have all these lines of support yet I still feel miserable and like nothing is actually concretely helping me in this moment?

The joys of pregnancy sciatica

On Thursday night, I started feeling a strange dull pain in my right hip. I didn’t think much of it and did my usual activities and slept in the usual position I have been in since the second trimester began, which is lying on my left side with a huge long pillow between my legs. I figured that I probably just pulled a muscle or had some other minor injury at the gym, and I’d probably be fine the next day after a night’s rest. The next morning, the pain was still there and felt the same, and I was able to use the elliptical and do some yoga. But during yoga, something felt really off in my right side. It just felt very tight, and I couldn’t quite explain it. And then during the day, I realized I had to limp occasionally to walk, which was really frustrating. And the real doozy was Friday evening trying to go to bed. I woke up at around 1:30am from shooting pains radiating down my hip into my knee. And I knew it had to be pregnancy related.

In the third trimester when a pregnant woman’s uterus is expanding the most for the growing baby, at the same time a hormone called relaxin is being released by her body, allowing her joints and ligaments to soften and make more space for the birth canal to widen to allow the baby to eventually get pushed through and be born. The potential side effect of this, though, is that the growing uterus can push against one’s sciatic nerve, causing all kinds of pains from the pelvic on downwards. The baby’s position in utero can also push down on sensitive nerves. It’s been said that yoga poses like child’s pose, figure four stretch, pigeon pose, and runner’s lunge are supposed to help and even eliminate the pain. But for me, other than child’s pose, they seem to have made my situation worse and my pain deepen. Child’s pose provides relief during the stretch, but once I am out of that position, the pain still seems to be the same unfortunately.

Chris helped me rearrange the pillows. We tried a cold ice pack to alleviate the pain. I ended up having to position myself nearly sitting completely upright to get comfortable before finally falling asleep. It was miserable. While changing positions constantly in pain, I thought back to the trainer at the gym who told me that I’d likely be pain and ache free throughout my pregnancy because I’d been so diligent about working out and keeping active, and I laughed to myself, realizing how wrong he was. Sciatica apparently does not discriminate like that. It can really affect anyone who is pregnant, including, unfortunately, me.

First theater show since pre-pandemic

Tonight, Chris and I went to see the Broadway show Chicken and Biscuits, our first theater show since before the pandemic officially shut down New York City. While we have already been to the Comedy Cellar plus two other comedy shows (Ali Wong and Neal Brennan) in the last few months, but this was our very first theater show. As per the New York City law, proof of vaccination (along with an ID to confirm who you actually are) was required to enter. Each venue has its own rules regarding masks, but at this theater, which was right next to the Wicked theater, they required masks upon entry. The entire theater district was buzzing. There were so many people lining up and getting excited to see shows this evening. It’s like a huge part of what makes New York City New York City is finally back.

Chicken and Biscuits was a really good first return-to-broadway and going to theater again show because it was really funny, is about a seemingly dysfunctional but hilarious family, and had a happy ending. The more I think about how miserable and bleak the world is, the more I realize that I am a sucker for happy endings. It’s hard for me to say that a show or movie or book is a “favorite” unless it has somewhat of a positive ending. Yes, that’s the fairy-tale, unrealistic side of me, but hey, it’s fiction for a reason, right?

When your freezer freezes shut

In another story of the moving-in-tale-from-hell, I discovered earlier this week that something seemed wrong with the ice dispenser in our freezer. Instead of dispensing ice, the ice maker was leaking a massive amount of water and ice, which would then freeze over and cause none of the ice to be usable, as it would just be a huge ice sheet. As the water continued to leak out of the ice box, it dripped down to create huge icicles around the drawers, which froze the drawers solid, rendering them incapable of being moved in and out. This also resulted in a near inability to even open or close the freezer without a ton of force. I wonder what the baby was thinking in the womb when I was doing these forceful movements so early in the morning this week, just trying to get some ice for the water bottle for my gym session.

The valve ended up being faulty, so our handyman had to have our management call GE to come inspect and ultimately replace the valve. But given the shelves now seem to be malfunctioning and tiny shards of plastic keep flying everywhere every time I open the freezer, this also means our drawers will need to be replaced. And early tomorrow morning, our handyman is going to come out to reinstall drawers taken from another apartment, and to help clean up all the ice collecting on the bottom of the freezer.

I have no idea what would have caused this total freezer madness, but I never before realized how complicated a freezer could be.

Stomach aches take on a whole new meaning when you are pregnant

I woke up this morning and slowly started getting myself alert by doing my usual thing: checking email and reading news on my phone. But when I got up and out of bed, my stomach suddenly started hurting. So I decided to lay in bed for about ten more minutes to see if the ache stopped. It didn’t. Maybe I just needed to use the bathroom, I thought, so I went on to the toilet and did my thing, bowel movements and all. Even after that, I still didn’t feel better, and the aching felt especially strong when I was standing up. So I went back to bed to lie down to see if the pain would subside. I quickly Googled “stomach ache while pregnant” to see what results came up, and the results said that if the pain lasts for more than 30-60 minutes of resting, then I needed to call my doctor. I wasn’t experiencing any dizziness, lower back pain, fever, or bleeding, and I know for a fact that my water didn’t break, so this couldn’t be pre-term labor, right? I honestly wasn’t sure and just hoped for the best. I touched my stomach and noticed it felt rock hard, but I could feel the baby moving every now and then inside. Maybe this was a combination of stomach ache and Braxton Hicks (fake) contractions?

About 15 minutes later, the pain fully subsided, as did the hardness on my belly. And I could feel little baby squirm around again inside, kicking me on my right side. Phew, I thought. That was a relief. I’m at week 29, and ideally for the baby’s health, I’d like us to be as close to full term as possible. It’s a bit funny (and terrifying) that something as seemingly simple as a stomach ache can be a bit alarming while pregnant because a stomach ache can oftentimes be much more than just that when you are pregnant with a tiny growing human inside you.

While many expectant moms and dads exclaim, “I can’t wait to meet baby!”, I am definitely not at that stage just yet. I can wait just fine for the baby to grow more and come out. I have quite a long list of “to-dos” that are both necessary to make sure baby is taken care of when she arrives, as well as fun to-dos that I’d like to do with my full baby-free freedom, which has numbered days now.

Pregnancy perks

I was going downtown to meet a friend for dinner, and when I got into the subway station, I swiped my Metro card to see the remaining value. The message that appeared was not a money value but instead, “See Agent,” which I’d never seen before. So I went up to the agent counter and told him the message I got when I checked my card value, and I swiped the card for him to see. He took one look at his screen, then looked me up and down and said, “You have $1.50 remaining. You can go through the gate.” I got so confused. Why was he letting me through the gate without topping up the value of my card and swiping? It was loud, so I thought I might have misheard him, so I cupped my ear to him to indicate I didn’t hear what he said. He said a bit louder, “I opened the gate. You can go through.” So I said thanks and walked through the gate without paying a fare. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a free subway fare in my entire time being a visitor or living in New York City. Was he letting me in for free because he saw I was pregnant?

Later on the Lower East Side, I went to the hostess stand outside to ask for a table for 2. My friend was just about ten minutes away, so when the hostess asked me if my entire party was there, I said no. She said that the restaurant policy was that they do not seat incomplete parties, so check back in with her when my friend had arrived. I didn’t think much of this at all until about a couple minutes later, I looked back up at the stand and noticed the hostess looking at me. “Yvonne?” she said. “You can sit down without your friend here. Feel free to go inside and they will seat you where you’d like!”

After checking my proof of vaccination, they sat me down and I waited for my friend, who came just two minutes later. I knew she had allowed me to be seated because I was visibly pregnant, and my friend was telling me how I should wring it for everything that it’s worth while I still can. “You should tell them at Trader Joe’s that you’re pregnant and see if they will let you cut the line!” she said. Every Trader Joe’s has a different policy, so while she could not guarantee that the Upper West Side location would allow this, she said it was worth the shot. So that means I’m definitely trying this the next time I go; I just need to make sure I’m wearing something fitted to show off my bump. 😀

Scrapbooking for 2019-2021

As the baby’s due date is approaching, I’ve been making a list of things I want and need to get done before she arrives. One of the fun tasks is finishing our scrapbook through our Turkey trip this past summer. I hadn’t updated the scrapbook since September 2019, when we went to Georgia and Alabama for an extended Labor Day weekend, so I had a bunch of updating to do. I started creating the pages through Christmas 2019 and creating templates for the pages that will follow, and tonight, I did a bulk order of photos to fill the scrapbook with through September 2021. When the baby comes, I hope to have enough time and energy to document her life, both through photos as well as through a scrapbook, but perhaps a more basic one since life with a child will be a lot different than life without one. We already have a little album and an Instax Fujifilm camera ready to go to document her beginnings, so I hope everything turns out well for her.

I hope as she grows that she will enjoy arts and crafts, too. I have imagined having future crafting sessions with her, creating scrapbook pages, using glitter and stencils, and having her enjoy the fun that is colored pencils, crayons, and paint. Then, we can enjoy all my art supplies together.

Fetal movements at 28.5 weeks pregnant

Since the baby is getting bigger, her movements are definitely becoming more and more pronounced as the days go on. I’ve realized that anytime I am in a social situation and am being very animated, or whenever I am doing presentations for work on Zoom, she tends to start going a little wild with her movements. I can’t quite tell the difference between her hands and feet yet, but she gets very active whenever I speak loudly or laugh a lot. She was very active on the night of Sambal Lady’s backyard outing in Brooklyn last week. This week, she’s been kicking and flailing a lot during my more active speaking during meetings. And sometimes, when the music on the TV is on a bit louder than usual, she starts moving a lot. When I am not in meetings and have YouTube music on during the weekday, I’ve been removing my headphones so that she can listen. And well, my music is a bit dated to the 1990s and 2000s/2010s, but the baby is definitely getting more acquainted with Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, and Adele. It’s almost like when all the socializing and music is happening, her movements are saying, “Hey! I’m here, too! Let me in on the fun!”

I read that at about 28 weeks, babies can hear sounds outside the womb, and sometimes, if they hear the same song or sound over and over again, it can serve to be like a lullaby that will calm them down or hush them. Who knows — maybe Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” or Mariah Carey’s “Hero” will be the baby’s lullaby song.

When they were supposed to be born the same month

I was on a customer call with a colleague yesterday morning, and right after, my colleague asked if she could video call me to share an update. I wasn’t really expecting anything specific to be shared, but when she told me she was leaving after only six months with us, I was shocked. I was even more shocked when she told me that the time off she took in August was because of a medical condition she had. When she was telling me how happy she was to learn that I was pregnant, she said she was fighting back tears because she was also pregnant, too… but had a miscarriage at around 22 weeks.

“My baby was due in December, too,” she said with a somber face. She had to have a procedure to remove the fetus in early August, and subsequently took some time to physically heal, but she’s still emotionally and mentally broken from the experience. And for various other reasons, she’s decided to resign, take some time off, and take on another role at another organization. The abortion she had damaged her uterus to the point where she was warned that she could not get pregnant for another six months to allow her body to fully heal, otherwise it could potentially be life-threatening.

What most people don’t seem to know or realize is that when a pregnant woman has a miscarriage after 12 weeks, the fetus cannot actually be naturally expelled on its own as it would be with the embryo before 12 weeks. Before the 12-week mark, depending on the embryo size, it could be expelled by the uterus through the vagina. But after that point, a woman’s body actually has to go into labor to release the unviable fetus. So, she will literally need to labor and “deliver” her dead baby. This can be a very scary and potentially life threatening process, and so most doctors will recommend a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure, or an abortion, for the safety of the mother.

I felt broken when she told me this. As soon as she said that she was pregnant and her baby was originally due in December, the same month mine is due, I started tearing up. I told her I really felt for her, that the whole fertility journey unfortunately is not easy, and it’s unfortunate so many people don’t recognize that. I didn’t tell her my story because it wasn’t really the time or place for it, as this talk was about her, but I did tell her that my road to get here was not simple or easy.

“It’s okay,” she insisted, smiling. “I have a great care team, I’m seeing an amazing therapist, and I’m getting through this. I have hope that one day, I will be in your shoes and preparing for my baby’s arrival when the stars are aligned.”

The struggles and pains of fertility, infertility are real. I only wish I never had to deal with a fertility clinic and IVF, but in some ways, maybe it’s made me a better, more empathetic person. While I’ve always believed women should be in total control of what happens to their bodies, I’ve never before realized exactly how horrible this struggle can be, how lonely it can be, until I went on this road myself. Not all women can relate; just because you’re talking with another woman doesn’t mean they can empathize or will even care. There are plenty of women out there who have never had any trouble getting pregnant, remaining pregnant, or birthing babies. A lot of these women have no idea how terrifying and agonizing all of this can be. But fortunately and unfortunately, I do know what it’s like. And I can empathize with my colleague and be her support for as much as she needs it.

28-week appointment

I had my 28-week OB appointment today, so I decided, as with pretty much every other visit, to walk across the park, which usually takes me somewhere between 40-50 minutes depending on how hot it is outside and how tired I feel. Today, almost as soon as I entered Central Park, I could feel a weird pressure on my bladder. It wasn’t like I needed to pee right away, but it was obvious that at some point in the following hour, I would need to pee.

When I got to the appointment, I did my usual routine of peeing into a cup (see, that pee comes in handy!) so they can check all my usual levels of things like protein, blood sugar, iron), then had a chat and a quick ultrasound scan with my doctor. I told my doctor that I always need to pee now, even more so than before, and she showed me the baby’s position: the baby is currently head down, but her head was resting directly on top of my bladder, which was creating all that pressure and need to pee.

That little twat, I thought to myself. This baby is getting so comfortable in my uterus that she has no idea what discomfort she is causing her mama. Regardless, I am just feeling thankful that she seems to look and sound okay. Her heart rate is on track, and she’s now weighing approximately 2 pounds, 10 ounces. She’s got a lot more growing to do before she comes out, so I will relish these moments of pressure on my bladder and her random kicks that make me breathe heavier.